Why Multilingual E-Commerce Is a Priority and How to Do It Well

August 1, 2022

If you do business internationally, you might have already considered a multilingual e-commerce website.

However, you don’t have to do global business to get benefits out of making your website available in multiple languages. Although English is the common choice for web design, customers with a variety of native languages will be looking at your website. Only around 25% of the world’s internet users used English in 2021 – meaning that 75% would benefit from sites that offer content in other languages.

No matter what scale you’re at, utilising a multilingual e-commerce website can benefit your business.

Here are just 3 of the top reasons to make multilingual e-commerce a priority, and tips on how to do it well:

1. Better consumer experience

A 2018 breakdown of 2011 census data found that 10% of English and Welsh residents didn’t speak English as their first language. That’s over 5.5 million people who would be interested in a multilingual website. There’s a very real demand for this feature.

If you’re multilingual yourself, or have studied another language, you’ll probably understand the preference to read text in your native language.  Even if you have strong skills in other languages, the first one you learned will come most naturally to you.

Someone navigating your website will find it much easier to manage if they can do it in their native language, particularly when it comes to making online purchases.

2. Reach a wider consumer base

Not only will a multilingual website make the experience better for users you already have, it also provides the opportunity for you to reach even more potential customers.

Being the e-commerce site that provides its customers with a multilingual website could be something that sets you apart from your competitors. If someone has an easier time navigating your website in their native language, compared to a competitor’s website which only uses English, that decrease in difficulty could be the deciding factor in who they’ll do business with.

It can be difficult to make a solid impression on your customers online, when so many competitors can be easily accessed. Making a difference in their experience on your website might seem like a minor change, but it can represent a huge benefit to a customer.

3. Improved online visibility

A multilingual e-commerce website isn’t just a benefit to customer experience and reach – it can also give you a huge boost in SEO rankings, increasing your overall traffic.

You might have already done work to improve your rankings on English keywords, but ranking for keywords and phrases in multiple languages means that search engines have more opportunities to direct traffic to your site. By providing the same content in different languages, you’re effectively multiplying your chances for searches to lead customers your way.

You don’t have to do this in a huge number of languages to see a difference in your traffic, either. Adding just 2 additional languages can increase traffic by 50%.

Tip: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well

If you’ve decided that now is the time to implement multilingual e-commerce on your website, be ready to spend some time on finding the best method. There are multiple multilingual plugins available for every major e-commerce platform, so take the time to look at the features, pricing, and compatibility with your current online presence.

You’ll also want to consider the logistics of setting up unique URLs for each language and the sitemap to optimise your search engine traffic.

One of the simplest ways to learn about best practice is to look at examples of other e-commerce sites that successfully provide multilingual options.

At ITQ, we’ve gained incredible experience from working with clients who operate multilingual sites.

If you’re interested in improving your website by making it available in other languages, but still have questions about the process, get in touch with us to Book a free e-commerce clinic.